There have been plenty of Fringe shows taking father-son relationships as their motif. Somerset-born comedian Matt Rudge gives his slant on the trend and gets it half right.
Viewed alongside the likes of Russell Kane and Des Bishop, whose recent Fringe output has focused on the more uncomfortable elements of their upbringings, Rudge's take on his alpha male dad is gentler and more stylised, although not lacking in substance.
Using as its narrative lead a letter that the 13-year old Rudge wrote to himself for a school project, he shares his teenage ambitions to become a soldier or famous rapper – not two words you commonly see on a CV, unless it belongs to LL Cool J. You see, Rudge's father was in the army and provided an example of heroic gruffness that his more cerebral son could only fantasise about emulating. A career on the stage always appeared a more likely bet.
Rudge employs a curious mix of comedy styles, firing a series of one-liners (about 50% of which hit their mark) before falling into meandering tales that rely in a reversal of our expectations and a sense of bathos. The effect is somewhat jarring, particularly during a long skit about a cancelled train which relies on wordplay that wouldn't look out of place in a sketch by The Two Ronnies. Later, a deliberately overblown rant about his perceived lack of 'edginess' reaches its peak around a minute before it ends. There is a lot of funny material here and some sharp ad-libbing (witness Rudge engineering a parochial dispute between two audience members), just not enough to fill an hour of stage time.
Rudge closes with two linked, real life stories of his accidental and instinctive brand of heroism where, again, the overriding impression is one of bathos. These may not be the attention grabbing acts that he had envisaged as a teenager, but they are entirely in keeping with Rudge's low-key affability.
It feels an odd way to end a comedy gig and leaves more questions than answers. Perhaps picking up on the audience's confusion, Rudge qualifies his choice of direction: 'This is the Fringe, so I wanted to do something a bit different.'
He may not have hit all his targets tonight, but he certainly achieves that.